Dr. Oz Explains How to Avoid Tension Headaches
How to Avoid Headaches
Nothing can put a damper on your day like a headache. If you're experiencing headaches frequently, make some changes. Too much stress, sun, alcohol, or caffeine can lead to frequent headaches, so tweaking your routine can help. If avoiding headache triggers does not help with your headaches, talk to a doctor. An underlying health condition may be to blame.
Avoiding Common Headache Causes
Identify anything that triggers your headaches.Notice if certain foods or smells cause a headache or whether you tend to have headaches when you're sleepy or stressed. Identifying your triggers can help you adjust your lifestyle to help avoid headaches.
- It can help to keep a headache diary where you note each time you have a headache and any factors that may have caused it.
Drink alcohol in moderation.Drinking too much can cause headaches due to dehydration. Stick to 1 or 2 drinks and avoid darker liquors.
- If you have frequent headaches already, you may be very sensitive to even a small amount of alcohol. It may be best to avoid indulging at all.
Cut back on caffeine.There is nothing wrong with caffeine in moderation. However, consuming high amounts of caffeine can lead to headaches. If you experience frequent headaches, drink less caffeine. If you find you're very sensitive to caffeine, work on eliminating it altogether to avoid headaches.
- Avoid energy drinks, as these have a lot of caffeine in addition to other unhealthy additives that could potentially cause headaches.
Avoid staring at screens for long periods.Too much time in front of the computer is a common cause of headaches. If you work in front of a computer, take breaks once every 30 minutes. Get up and stretch or at least look away from the screen for a few minutes.
Reduce your exposure to the sun.If you live in a sunny area, too much sun may be causing your headaches. Bright sunlight can trigger other common causes of headaches, like dehydration and eyestrain. If you go out in the sun, wear sunglasses and bring an umbrella to reduce the likelihood of developing a headache.
- If you feel overheated, seek a shaded area or a building with air conditioning right away.
Avoid food triggers.Keep track of headaches that occur after eating. If you have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food, it may cause a headache. If you notice headaches tend to come after eating certain foods, eliminate those foods and see if you notice a difference.
Changing Your Lifestyle
Drink more water.Dehydration is a common cause of headaches, so make sure you're getting enough water. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and take small sips when you feel thirsty. Drink water with meals instead of soda or other beverages. Each time you see a water fountain, stop and take a drink.
- Make sure to drink water during activities that cause dehydration, like working out.
Eat small meals frequently.Low blood sugar can cause headaches, so eating more frequently can help you stay headache free. Opt to eat small meals throughout the day rather than 2 larger meals.
- To break up meals, try having 1 piece of fruit and a hardboiled egg as soon as you wake up. Then, have another egg later in the morning as well as a piece of toast or half a bagel. Continue this pattern throughout the day.
- Avoid prolonged fasting, which can trigger headaches.
Change the way you eat.Certain foods may help with headaches while others can make headaches more likely. Eating a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables can help reduce your headaches.
- Green, orange, and yellow vegetables have been shown to reduce headaches for some. Other foods that help with headaches include brown rice and dry non-citrus fruits.
- Dairy products, chocolate, eggs, citrus fruit, cured meat, wheat, tomatoes, corn, onions, apples, and bananas can worsen headaches for some.
- Some studies indicate foods high in magnesium help prevent headaches, so go for options like tofu, olive oil, spinach, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Avoid foods with that are processed as well as those high levels of sodium or MSG (like Chinese food).
Take breaks when necessary.A headache can mean you need rest. If you're overdoing it at work or with physical tasks, you may end up with a headache. Throughout your day, make a habit of taking a break when necessary to avoid getting a headache from overexertion.
- If it's possible, try lying down in a dark ventilated room for 10 minutes if you feel a headache coming on. This can help reduce symptoms.
Reduce the stress in your life.Too much stress can lead to headaches brought on by anxiety. If you're feeling a lot of stress, find ways to reduce stress in your life. In addition to lessening headaches, reducing stress can make you happier overall.
- Try looking up meditation or relaxation routines online. You can also look into taking a meditation class.
- Reach out to others. Make a habit of socializing regularly, as support from friends and family members can help reduce stress.
- If you're struggling to manage stress, talk to a therapist. If stress is taking over your life, it may be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition.
Get enough sleep.If you're not getting enough sleep, this can cause headaches. Make a habit of going to bed early each night so you get enough sleep for the coming day.Adults generally need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night.
- If you have trouble sleeping, work on establishing a sleep routine. Make a habit of doing something relaxing each night before bed to wind down, like reading or taking a warm bath.
Establish an exercise routine.Aerobic exercise can reduce headaches. It can also lessen stress, which is also a common cause of headaches. If you don't already workout regularly, incorporate regular aerobic exercise into your routine.
- Pick an activity you enjoy so you'll stick with it. If you love long walks, for example, try to go power walking a few times a week.
- If you're very busy, find ways to incorporate your workout routine into your daily schedule. For example, bike to work instead of driving or taking public transportation.
Avoid cigarette smoke.Cigarette smoke can contribute to headaches due to the way it constricts blood vessels in your brain. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking can relieve your headaches. If you aren’t a smoker, avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible.
Inhale the scent of peppermint a few times daily.You can apply some peppermint oil to your wrists or temples to disperse the scent, and this may help to get rid of a headache or even prevent a headache.Repeat this a few times per day or as needed.
- You may want to add a few drops of peppermint oil to a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut oil.
Seeking Professional Help
Present your doctor with a detailed list of symptoms.If your headaches do not go away with lifestyle and other changes, see a doctor for evaluation. While usually not serious, chronic headaches can be caused by other medical problems. To help your doctor provide the best diagnosis, make a list of your symptoms.
- Keep a headache diary, chronicling when your headaches occur and any potential triggers.
- Include the intensity of each headache.
- You should also note how long your headaches have been occurring and any existing medical conditions you have.
Get any necessary medical tests.Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may want to run some tests to check for underlying conditions that may be causing your headaches. They may order a CT scan, an MRI, or blood work to check for neurological or other problems.
- If your doctor orders any tests, make sure you ask them about preparing ahead of time. Some tests may require you not to eat or drink the day before, for example.
Talk to your doctor about dietary supplements.Depending on what your doctor thinks is causing the headaches, they may suggest dietary supplements. Magnesium, butterbur, feverfew, coenzyme Q10, and riboflavin are supplements that have reduced headache symptoms for some. Discuss dietary supplements with your doctor to see if they would be safe given your current health and any existing medications.
- Never introduce a dietary supplement before talking to your doctor first.
Seek acupuncture treatments.Some doctors may recommend natural treatments for chronic headaches, such as migraines. Acupuncture may be helpful if you suffer from chronic headaches, so discuss these options with your doctor.
- Acupuncture is a technique where pressure points on the body are stimulated, often via inserting needles into the skin. Acupuncture has been shown to eliminate headaches for some.
Get or give yourself a scalp massage.Massage therapy involves seeing a professional masseuse to have your head, temples, and other body parts massaged to reduce the frequency of headaches. However, you can also give yourself a daily scalp massage to help prevent and possibly also relieve a headache.
- To give yourself a scalp massage, press your fingertips to your scalp and move them in small circles around your head. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes daily or as needed.
QuestionWhat causes headaches?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA lot of things can cause headaches, including stress, vision problems, dehydration, lack of sleep, lack of a proper diet, alcohol consumption, dental problems, etc. etc. If you're having regular headaches, it's best to talk to a doctor about your symptoms.Thanks!
QuestionWhat causes headaches and being nauseous at the same time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat can be any number of things, including stress, high blood pressure, a cold, or even early pregnancy. It could also be a migraine.Thanks!
QuestionHow much water should I drink per day if I get migraines?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answer6-8 glasses are recommended for daily function. If you have headaches, aim to drink more. If you are in severe pain, add a painkiller or see a physician.Thanks!
- If you experience a new or different type of headache, go to your local emergency room. The headache could be a symptom of something more serious, particularly if there is also a stiff neck, fever, or confusion.
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